Author: Sayaka Murata
Original title: Agnes Grey
Edition Language: English
Keiko Furukura had
always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried
how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a
convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her.
However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job,
has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels
comfortable in her life but is aware that she is not living up to
society's expectations and causing her family to worry about her.
It is a very short novel and I have heard so many positive things about it, so I was actually hunting for it in the stores. But in the end, I was left disappointed and confused by the book.
The novel is about a character who doesn’t change in a society that
doesn’t change, and how both have found comfort in conformity. It’s never explicitly stated, but Keiko is obviously autistic. She
comes off as robotic and unemotional. She has no interest in sex or
relationships in general. She works, thinks and lives mechanically. She
even has her sister come up with lines for her to repeat in social
situations to seem like a “normal” person. So, since she knows her place in the world and she’s satisfied with it why everyone keeps pushing her to something else? She starts and ends as a convenience store worker. So why everybody is making a problem out of it?
Additionally, the switches between somehow simplistic and almost philosophical way of thinking left a
confused impression. Maybe the message of the novel is more relevant to closed
Japanese society, but I was not impressed.
it is generally a well-written book that is easy to read. Besides, for a novel
mostly set in an ordinary convenience store it was never boring. So Sayaka Murata really managed it well.